Serial: Season One: Final Thoughts

Hello all, and welcome back to the good ol’ blog. I believe that this will be my last post, so I’ll try to make it a good one!

In this post, I’m going back to discussing the podcast Serial, and my final thoughts as to Adnan Syed’s guilt or innocence. I finished the first season with Episode 12: What We Know, which you guys can find here.

I’ll admit, at first, I thought Adnan Syed was guilty. After all, he’s been tried in a court of law, and found guilty. If the court system is throwing innocent people in jail, especially on a charge as significant as this, can we trust it? I feel that the answer is no. If we begin to doubt the justice system, the world begins to fall apart, dissolving into corruption and conspiracy, whether actual or merely perceived. For this reason, I, and I believe most people, put their faith in the court system, and trust the outcomes of its processes.

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The court system (Russia Now).

Sarah Koenig, the narrator of this podcast changed my thoughts a little bit. She pointed out that much of the evidence used to convict Syed is very unreliable and circumstantial. No one knows if Syed made the call, or if Jay Wilds did, or if it was someone else! Someone could know who made the call, and could be lying, or not telling anyone at all. It’s a mess, and I don’t think that the cell phone records are reliable. Also, the other outstanding piece of evidence is the testimony of Jay Wilds. HIs story changed, and some of the information he provided was proved false. There are several alibis, all for different people. To put it in the word’s of Koenig, the case is a mess (Serial “What We Know”). It’s incredible to think that the case and verdict took as little time as they did, when it appears that the case should have dragged out for months, even years.

There is also the issue of Asia McClain.  She provided Syed with a very clear alibi, stating that he was at the library at the time of the murder, with her, chatting.  McClain even went so far as to provide a signed affidavit affirming her statement.  For no particular reason, this was never explored in court, not even mentioned.  Furthermore, Asian McClain was never even contacted by Syed’s lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez.

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A picture of Asia McClain (Khan)

Speaking of Gutierrez, that’s a mystery in and of itself.  She did not explore many possibilities and pieces of evidence that may have resulted in Adnan Syed being found guilty.  Strange thing for a defense attorney to do to her client.  Some, including Koenig, have speculated that Gutierrez may have planned to appeal the case, and then win there, allowing her to charge the Syed more money.  Before this could happen, an investigation occured and Gutierrez was disbarred for overcharging her clients.  In the years since, Gutierrez has died, forever leaving these questions unanswered (Serial “The Alibi”) .  I must ask, though, is it possible that Syed’s lawyer could have blown the case in an effort to make more money in the appeal.  Would a lawyer be able to send someone who they are supposed to protect to prison for more money?

 

US Currency is seen in this January 30,
Money, money, money (Tight Lines).

 

There is also the issue of another criminal.  According to Episode 12 of Serial, the Innocence Project found that a criminal was released around the same time that Hae Min Lee was killed, and that he was known to have killed in a similar way to the way Lee was found.  DNA testing was being performed at the time of the episode airing, and I was not able to find the results.

 

Something has happened, that also helped change my mind.  Syed and his lawyer have come forward and asked for a new trial, thanks to the evidence uncovered by Sarah Koenig and the Serial podcast (Anderson).  The court has not yet decided on whether or not to grant the motion, but it has been delayed for a considerable length of time, meaning that there is serious consideration going on about the case and its verdict.  This influences my opinion and thoughts the greatest, pushing me to believing in Syed’s innocence more and more.  If a court is taking over a year to reach a decision on whether or not to give Syed a new trial, I begin to question the original verdict (Fenton).

 

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New trial for Syed (Fraser)?

 

All facts taken into account, I feel that Adnan Syed is innocent.  There are too many inconsistencies and an appalling lack of solid evidence involved in this case.  The details and facts of this case are so few and far in between that I don’t think Syed’s case should ever have been brought to trial.  I understand that the prosecution probably wanted to solve a murder, and to bring closure to a grieving family, but at the cost of a young man’s freedom?  The court is supposed to find a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and I don’t think that the jury was really able to do this with the case, as I can’t.  I can’t even imagine being able to, when imagining just the facts that were available at the time of the trial…

I believe that Sarah Koenig and the entire team of Serial has done some excellent investigative journalism, and uncovered interesting issues and details of the case.  They have brought the attention of the world onto an old case in Maryland, and this may result in the exoneration of an innocent man.  It will be interesting to see what the ultimate outcome of the case will be, and I will definitely be waiting to hear it.

 

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Serial (Cresswell)

 

That’s all for now!  A huge thank you to all my readers, for doing just that, reading.  Alec Gilvesy, signing off.

Works Cited

Anderson, Jessica. “Appeals Court to Hear Arguments June 8 on Whether ‘Serial’ Subject Syed Should Receive New Trial.” Baltimoresun.com. 31 May 2017. Web. 28 July 2017.

Cresswell, Leanne. “Serial Podcast: Episode 1 ‘The Alibi’ – Summary.” Leanne Cresswell. 05 Dec. 2016. Image. 28 July 2017.

“Episode 01: The Alibi.” Serial. Podcast. 28 July 2017.
“Episode 12: What We Know.” Serial. Podcast. 28 July 2017.
“Faith and Money.” Tight Lines. Image. 28 July 2017.
Fenton, Justin. “Appeals Court Takes up ‘Serial’ Case, Could Extend Resolution by a Year or More.” Baltimoresun.com. 18 Jan. 2017. Web. 28 July 2017.
Fraser, Keith. “B.C. Man Convicted of Sex Offences against Minor Gets New Trial.” Vancouver Sun. 08 Feb. 2017. Image. 28 July 2017.
Khan, Mariam. “Asia McClain Speaks Out About ‘Serial”s Adnan Syed.” ABC News. ABC News Network. Image. 28 July 2017.
“Russian Intellectual Property Court to Review Procter & Gamble Claim in Trademark Dispute.” Russia Now. 11 July 2016. Image. 28 July 2017.

My Thoughts on “Serial”, Episode One

Welcome back to another blog, readers!  Today, I’ve got something very interesting to discuss: cereal.

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A very interesting bowl of cereal (Crawford)

Er.  No.  Actually, that popular podcast Serial, and the first episode of the first season.  For those, who don’t know, the first season of Serial is the story of the investigation a journalist, Sarah Koenig, does on the second-degree murder conviction of Adnan Syed.  Here is a link to the first episode, The Alibi.

 

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Adnan Syed in a photo from Serial.

Personally, I really liked this episode.  I’m also not the only one.  The average number of times each episode of “Serial” has been downloaded, as of December 22, 2014, is 3.4 million (Roberts 14)!  Obviously, many people, including I, found it interesting to see how, even many years after Adnan Syed’s case was closed, people took up an interest in this young man, and whether or not he is guilty.  I love mysteries, and the justice system, and I think that many people enjoy these too.  Just the first episode of this podcast features mysteries such as Asia McClain and her missing, changing testimony, and which witness is telling the truth.  I expect many more of these mysteries, possibly with some of them being solved in the next few episodes.  It was after listening to this podcast that I wondered how the Syed family felt about it.  I thought that they would be supportive of the podcast, because it is bringing attentions to an issue that is still going on for them, and it might result in action happening in their favour.  I also worried that their initial excitement and hope would quickly be replaced with sadness, as the conviction has already been made, and was made quite a long time ago.  To see how accurate I was in my thoughts, I made a quick Google search, and found out, in an article from The Baltimore Sun.   It turns out that the Syed family was brought back to life, in a way.  The podcast and its popularity showed them that they weren’t the only ones in believing that Adnan is innocent (George).

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A podcast logo (The Samplecast).

 

This is my first podcast, and I have to admit that I quite enjoy the experience.  It’s a lot like reading, but you are able to do something else while you listen.  For this reason, I think that podcasts are better at telling stories than books.  With books and reading, you can imagine the world and characters explained, but with podcasts, you can take your focus off, and lay back and close your eyes, and become fully immersed in the universe of the story.  To read, you have to stay focused, and you must devote your time and energy to reading alone, which makes it less attractive.  Also, reading may give you some details, but podcasts allow for different characters to have different voices, and different expressions and pronunciations, which makes what is being told more engaging.

Sarah Koenig, the investigative journalist and narrator of Serial, begins this episode by interviewing different people around Adnan Syed’s age at the time of the murder about 21 minutes on a Friday six weeks ago.  I really thought that the responses were quite funny, as two friends contradicted each other in their recollections.  It goes to show that the human mind can be influenced by a number of factors, and it can be difficult to recall what exactly happened.  Even memories from a few days ago are often distorted and changed representations of what actually happened at the time.  I, personally, do not think that I would be able to remember exactly what happened in that specific period, and I would describe myself as a person with a very good memory.  In a time without smartphones, the task gets even harder.  It will be interesting to see how, in future episodes, what evidence can be gotten from witnesses, and how reliable it is, from both perspectives; the defense’s, and the prosecution’s.

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Sarah Koenig (Parco).

I think this podcast is an interesting example of what investigative journalism is, and what it can become.  This podcast has generated a great deal of interest, and has done a lot of good for Adnan Syed.  He is getting a new trial, where the evidence used in his conviction will be reviewed, and the evidence explored in this first episode, that of Asia McClain’s alibi for Syed, will be considered (Silman).  If investigative journalism done in this way can have this massive effect of being able to get a court to review a case over fifteen years old, and attract the interest of millions of people across the world, I believe that it should be done more often, on a variety of issues.  Investigative journalism is how the biggest stories break, and how the public learns about events and happenings that they otherwise may not.  This podcast started small, and snowballed into something much bigger than itself.  With websites, Facebook pages, Twitter hashtags, subreddits, and news stories all devoted to this cause, and begun because of this podcast and its impact.  Sarah Koenig has created something unique, and it will be something to watch in the future.

In conclusion, I think that Serial is a very unique and interesting podcast, and concept.  It is an example of how modern technology and social networks can influence the world, and shape media and people.  A great deal of good has been done, I feel, by Serial, and it will be interesting to see the outcome of Syed’s new trial.  I’ll keep listening to the episodes, and stay tuned to the news.  Until next time, readers!

Works Cited

Crawford, Elizabeth. “Healthy Cereals Could Help Industry Grow Modestly in 5 Years, IBISWorld Predicts.” FoodNavigator-USA.com. 12 Feb. 2015. Web. 21 July 2017.

“Episode 01: The Alibi.” Serial. Web. 21 July 2017.

George, Justin. “‘Serial’ Brings Healing to Syed Family.” Baltimoresun.com. 20 June 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

Parco, Nicholas. “Sarah Koenig Is ‘shocked’ That Adnan Syed Is Getting a New Trial.” NY Daily News. 06 July 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

“Podcast.” The Samplecast. Web. 21 July 2017.

Roberts, Amy. “The ‘Serial’ Podcast: By the Numbers.” CNN. Cable News Network, 23 Dec. 2014. Web. 21 July 2017.

Silman, Anna. “The “Serial” Effect: Adnan Syed Gets a New Hearing – and Potential Alibi Witness Asia McClain Will Be Heard.” Salon. Web. 21 July 2017.